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July 24, 2010 / Melissa

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Lesson Two: Jobs – If it’s too good to be true, it is.  And if they want an answer right away, it’s just not good.

Some may say this is common sense.  However, despite my over-use of the career center and constant critique of my resumes/vita, once you are with a job offer – especially your first – the excitement takes over and sometimes the rational nature slips.  When I was offered my first job, I had to ask for time to make a decision, as I really did have two offers on the table.  However, I was given a day to make a decision about a job that seemed to be a perfect fit and too good to be true.  Well, it was too good to be true, and I think I ended up hating 80% of the time I spent there.  No amount of money was worth the frustration of going into that job.  When a company pressures you for an answer, it is not a mutual interest they have in mind – it is their self-serving needs.  I then started another interview process, and was offered several positions, all of which I turned down based on this logic.  Does it seem silly to turn down a job in this economy – of course.  But the “fit” wasn’t there.  I interviewed with a local social service agency who upon interview ( should I mention the interviewer was nearly 45 minutes late) and was hired on the spot as a House Supervisor.  My interviewer told me that I was a perfect fit, blah blah blah.  And then, she told me the salary.  $12.50/hr.  With my Master’s degree, and wast told it was on the higher end.  So $27,000 a year with my graduate degree and that’s high?  The interviewer gave me little room to negotiate and little room to turn down the job offer in person.  It was a nice sentiment, but when I knew for a fact there were some with Associate’s degrees and less experience than I was bringing in earning $15/hr, why settle?  I don’t buy the “you can work overtime.”  In the social services field, overtime = massive burnout.  And that is never healthy.  Then there was a position where I was going to commit to poverty for a year.  I interviewed one day, was offered the position the next day, with a need for an answer by the following day.  I knew little about the city I would entertain moving to, health insurance didn’t cover pre-existing conditions, and while it seemed to be a really good “fit,” I couldn’t cut it financially for the year.  And when a person needs to know ASAP and calls every one of your references to find you to offer the job again, it truly feels invasive instead of an honor.  But that is my perspective.  And then there was this offer from a university after a 15 minute phone interview.  I had never met these people in person and then wanted me to start in early August.  Offered the job in mid-July.  I wasn’t given a salary until I asked, and only allowed a few days to think over the offer.  Again, flattered you wanted to hire me, yet not impressed by the interview process.

Am I a bit critical when I am “interviewing” my potential employers?  No, I don’t think so.  Through this process, I have gained a sense of interviewing acumen which allows me to view perspectives I previously hadn’t intentionally paid attention to (or had to) during an interview process.  While a job is important, there is something to say about your gut feeling and understanding that your decision-making process has to be respected as well in order for the position to even start off on a mutually beneficial level.  If you are interviewing me, you should be punctual.  If you aren’t, that just looks bad.  And if you are interviewing me via telephone from a major metropolitan area and your first question is do you have a car and a driver’s license as opposed to your skill set, I might have an initial reaction.

Thus, the perfect job is just that – a job.  And jobs end, but prior to beginning them sets the tone for the rest of the working relationship.  Pay attention to subtle office dynamic cues, like who walks into an interview room first when a group is interviewing you, who spends the most face time with you.  Does the interviewer ask awkward questions or seem to give scripted responses?  If you are giving a job talk, are people paying attention?  During a lunch what type of conversations are going on?  Is your interviewer on time?  Do they seem organized?  Do they bad-mouth the organization even though they may be trying to frame the positive changes that are happening?  Pay attention to language used, no matter how subtle it may be.

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One Comment

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  1. Laurie / Aug 23 2010 9:11 PM

    I’m going to pass this along to my college graduate daughter. Good advice! What may be a good fit at 25 may not be a good fit at 35, so don’t go into a job thinking you will retire there. It probably won’t happen. Companies change, people change, leaderships change…always look for what allows your top priority to remain your top priority – be it family, further education, etc.

    Great blog site!

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